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Colic is common. And while a fussy newborn is also common, colic is unique in that the fussiness goes on for extended periods of time.
For both new and veteran parents, a colicky baby can lead to sleepless nights, psychological stress, physical exhaustion, and even the breakdown of a relationship.
This is why when dealing with colic, it’s essential to know your options and to remember that it does get easier.
Colic can cause stress for both parents and baby with hours of crying and fussiness, followed by vomiting, choking, and feeding issues. Before using a prescription antacid that could damage a newborn's developing gut, try introducing a few drops of cultured vegetable juice, made from the Veggie Culture Starter, to strengthen digestion with probiotics.
While parents of a colicky baby need no description of colic, the strict medical definition is a condition of a healthy baby in which:
However, the medical definition of colic is useful as a guideline only.
Any amount of fussing and crying for no apparent reason may be colic. If your newborn is inconsolable and cries for extended periods of time, you may want to consider colic and do your best to naturally resolve the issue as soon as possible. Crying creates stress hormones in both parents and baby.
Because colic is most often the result of an immature digestive tract, it is frequently seen in newborn babies and can peak during evening hours.
Other signs of colic are:
Keep in mind that your baby’s digestive tract is still developing. The most important part of this development involves the bacteria and yeast that colonize your baby’s gut.
In the most ideal circumstances, a baby is:
But because every birth is different and because the immediate health of both mother and baby matter most, many children are instead born through a C-section delivery.
And because of a busy work schedule or because of shifting hormones, a mother’s milk supply may never fully mature. For this reason, many new mothers do not have the opportunity to offer breast milk to their newborn.
These two factors can contribute to the development of colic. However, even babies born under ideal circumstances can still struggle with gas, cramping, and pain.
While we know that colic has something to do with gastrointestinal function, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the cause of a colicky baby. So far, the most widely used remedy is an antacid prescription.
Zantac, otherwise known as ranitidine, has the least number of side effects and is one of the safest options to consider if your baby has colic.
That said, Zantac and many other antacids reduce the acidity of gastric juices. This may sound like a good idea if your baby suffers from acid reflux. But bear in mind that the stomach is acidic for a reason.
As it turns out, infants placed on antacids are at higher risk for gastrointestinal infection and community-acquired pneumonia. (2) This is true whether infants are placed on H2 antagonists like Zantac or another type of antacid called a PPI (proton pump inhibitor).
When we give anyone an antacid, including an infant, this is because we assume that there is an excess of stomach acid.
Of course, this is only true in a small fraction of cases. And when it comes to infants, many of them do not respond well to antacid therapy. (3)
This is because not all colic can be controlled by reducing the acidity of the stomach.
What we call colic is an umbrella term that covers several forms of gastrointestinal distress. (4) In some cases, Zantac has been found to be as effective as a placebo in reducing colic. (5) In other cases, Zantac is just as damaging to the gastrointestinal mucosa as other antacids. (6)
The most important factor to consider when remedy colic is whether or not there is an absolute need to reduce stomach acid. This is because stomach acid protects a baby from infection and enhances digestion.
If you are breastfeeding and your baby has colic:
If you are formula-feeding and your baby has colic:
If you must use an antacid like Zantac and it helps your little one to suffer less, then rest assured that this is the best choice that you can make.
Colic is a common condition that can affect newborns, causing fussiness for an extended period of time. Colic is most often triggered by an immature digestive tract and can include symptoms like feeding problems, vomiting, and choking.
In many cases, C-section delivery and feeding an infant formula can contribute to the development of colic. But any baby can be susceptible to the condition that causes cramping, gas, and constant pain.
For relief, many babies are prescribed antacids like Zantac that can reduce the acidity of gastric juices. But not all cases of colic can be effectively controlled with this treatment. In some instances, Zantac can be just as damaging to the gastrointestinal mucosa as other prescribed antacids.
To remedy your baby’s colic naturally, consider the following steps:
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